The best time to visit Mount Rainier is from mid-summer to early fall, especially in late July or early August when the wildflowers bloom. This period offers the warmest and driest conditions, perfect for hiking and sightseeing. Popular areas like Sunrise and Paradise are easily accessible, though they draw large crowds, so we recommend arriving early and checking park updates.
Mount Rainier offers all sorts of recreational activities, from hiking and camping to mushroom foraging! Plus, the views are stunning. Knowing the best time to go will help ensure you get to enjoy the activities you love most.
We’ll show you the best time to visit Mount Rainier for your goals — whether you want dry weather, fewer crowds, or free entry. Plus, we’ll explain the worst time to visit this active volcano and provide plenty of travel tips to help make your visit a success.
Overall Best Time to Visit Mt. Rainier
The overall best time to visit Mount Rainier is any time during the middle of the year, from mid-summer to early fall.
At that point of the year, the weather is warm enough to ensure all or most park roads and trails will be open. You’re no longer dealing with heavy snow or extreme cold.
However, if you want to experience Mt. Rainier at its absolute best, consider planning your trip in late July or early August. For a few short weeks in mid to late summer, Mt. Rainier bursts into color as the wildflowers bloom.
Pink, yellow, purple, and blue petals coat the mountainside as the final snowy patches melt away, creating a stunning landscape. July and August also offer the warmest and driest weather, with highs in the mid-sixties or low seventies and less than two inches of rain on average.
On top of that, the best wildflower meadows are near the Sunrise and Paradise entrances, both exceptionally easy to access from the Seattle area.
Of course, nice weather, gorgeous blooms, and easy access also draw in the biggest crowds. So, you’ll want to arrive early, before ten am. And you should check the park’s X page for congestion updates.
Cheapest Time to Visit Mt. Rainier
The cheapest time to visit Mount Rainier is in the off-season, in early spring (March to mid-April) or late fall (late October to early November).
However, the park itself is relatively inexpensive, regardless of when you decide to go. The entrance fees range from $15 for a bicycle entry to $55 for an annual pass.
Most people will need to pay a single vehicle fee, which admits the vehicle and all passengers for $30. That said, there are a few days each year that Mt. Rainier National Park waives all entry fees.
Meaning you can enter the park for free. These days include:
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
- The first day of National Park Week (Mid-April)
- National Public Lands Day (Late September)
- Veteran’s Day
If you’re factoring in a flight to Seattle-Tacoma airport and a city hotel stay when planning your trip, the cheapest time of year to visit is off-season, in early spring or late fall. Summer flights and hotel stays in Seattle are particularly expensive.
Least Busy Time to Visit Mt. Rainier
The least busy time to visit Mount Rainier is in the early fall or early winter. Aiming for a mid-week visit, arriving before ten am or after two pm, and picking a park entrance that’s a little less popular, can help ensure you avoid the rush, even during the wildflower bloom.
In early fall, there will be frost and a chance of snow, but it’s also beautiful. The colors are changing, and fewer vehicles mean better conditions for bicycling. Early winter may require extra warm clothes and a high tolerance for snow.
But it also offers the chance to enjoy unique recreational activities. For example, you could take a ranger-led snowshoe tour, explore the grounds on a snowmobile, or opt for a day of snow fun at the Paradise sledding area.
Worst Time to Visit Mt. Rainier
The worst time to visit Mt. Rainier is in early spring, particularly April, or late fall, particularly November.
You might think that a springtime visit would let you beat the crowds and enjoy the sights, but there’s a reason the masses have yet to arrive. Spring in Mt. Rainier is cold and wet.
It’s not uncommon for there to be enough snow to keep the sledding area open through March, and in April, there are often still snowy spots. Highs in spring are in the forties or early fifties, but it still drops below freezing most nights.
And it rains a lot. April sees upwards of 8 inches of rain on average. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the twenty inches the park typically sees in November.
November is arguably the worst month because it usually rains non-stop. Mt. Rainier is surrounded by clouds most of the time, and catching a glimpse of the awe-inspiring peak is unlikely.
Mount Rainier by Month: Climate & Activities
Still unsure about the best time to visit Mount Rainier? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:
January in Mount Rainier National Park, often with temperatures from 19 to 35°F (-7 to 2°C), is a winter wonderland. It’s perfect for snowshoeing amidst the snowy landscapes, cross-country skiing, and enjoying the serene beauty of the snow-covered mountain.
February continues the snowy splendor, ideal for winter photography capturing the majestic Rainier, participating in ranger-led snowshoe walks, and enjoying the quiet trails of the Paradise area.
As spring approaches, March offers temperatures ranging from 22 to 39°F (-6 to 4°C). Witness the start of the snowmelt, explore the lower elevation trails like the Nisqually Vista, and visit the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center for educational exhibits.
April’s milder weather, with temperatures between 28 to 47°F (-2 to 8°C), beckons for scenic drives along the park’s open roads, viewing the early spring wildflowers, and enjoying clearer skies for breathtaking views of the mountain.
May brings warmer days, from 35 to 57°F (2 to 14°C), perfect for hiking the lower elevation trails, such as those around Longmire and Ohanapecosh, and experiencing the vibrant spring greenery and waterfalls.
June, welcoming summer with temperatures between 41 to 66°F (5 to 19°C), offers ideal conditions for visiting the Sunrise area for panoramic views, exploring wildflower meadows, and hiking to pristine alpine lakes.
July’s warmth, with temperatures from 47 to 73°F (8 to 23°C), is all about enjoying the peak wildflower season in the Paradise area, taking on challenging hikes like the Skyline Trail, and experiencing the beauty of subalpine meadows.
In August, with temperatures of 47 to 72°F (8 to 22°C), hike to the Camp Muir high camp for a taste of mountaineering, enjoy star-gazing parties on clear nights, and explore the Grove of the Patriarchs for a walk among ancient trees.
Welcoming fall, September, with temperatures from 40 to 65°F (4 to 18°C), is perfect for viewing the autumn colors, enjoying the quieter trails after the summer crowds, and visiting the historic Paradise Inn.
October’s cooler days, from 31 to 54°F (-1 to 12°C), are ideal for scenic drives to view the fall foliage, exploring the Myrtle Falls and Silver Falls, and experiencing the tranquil side of the park before winter sets in.
November, as the chill returns, temperatures from 25 to 41°F (-4 to 5°C), is a time for enjoying the early snows on the mountain, visiting the Longmire Museum, and experiencing the quietude of the park’s offseason.
December brings back the winter landscape, with temperatures ranging from 19 to 35°F (-7 to 2°C). This month is perfect for winter camping for the adventurous, snowboarding or skiing in designated areas, and enjoying the peaceful winter ambiance of the park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Figuring out the best time to visit Mount Rainier is only the beginning of your travel plans. Making this trip comes with a lot of questions. Below, we answer a few of the most common ones:
How much does it cost to go up Mt. Rainier?
There are two fees to consider if you plan on summiting Mount Rainier. First, there’s the park entry fee. Entry fees break down as follows:
- Single vehicle: $30
- Bicycle entry: $15
- Motorcycle: $25
- Camping: $20
If you want to climb to the peak, you’ll also need to pay the national annual climbing fee. Currently, the fee is $37 for those twenty-five or younger and $53 for those over twenty-five.
How many days do you need in Mt. Rainier?
Visiting Mt. Rainier for a day is fantastic, but if you want to experience all the park has to offer, going for three days or more is ideal.
Within three days, you can spend one viewing the subalpine meadows at Paradise. Then, you can head to Sunrise for phenomenal peak panoramas. Finally, we recommend checking out the temperate rainforest at Carbon River on day three.
Is Mt. Rainier a day trip from Seattle?
Yes, visiting Mount Rainier can be a day trip from Seattle. It takes about two to two and a half hours to reach the Paradise entrance from downtown.
If you leave early, at around 7 am, you can reach the park before the lot fills, even in summer. Then you can enjoy a day of hikes and views before heading back to the city for dinner.
Which side of Mt. Rainier is better?
Most people feel that the south side of Mount Rainier is the best place to visit. This includes the Paradise entrance. The south side offers majestic views, wildflower-flecked meadows, and plenty of trails and picnic areas. It’s also easy to get to from downtown Seattle.
Are there grizzly bears in Mt. Rainier?
There aren’t Grizzly bears in Mount Rainier National Park, but there is a large black bear population. Black bears rarely attack humans, but they’re still dangerous, and there’s no shortage of human-bear encounters at Mount Rainier.
Always practice wildlife safety within the park. For example, never approach or feed black bears and back away slowly if you see one along a trail.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Mount Rainier?
The best time to visit Mount Rainier is in July or August if you want warmer, drier weather and hope to see the renowned wildflower bloom. However, visiting during off months has its perks too! The truth is Mount Rainier is worth a visit regardless of the time of year. Happy travels!